Florida Just Became the First State to Ban Lab-Grown MeatGovernor Ron DeSantis said he's taking a stand against 'elites' and protecting the state's cattle industry. Other states are considering their own bans.


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the country's first ban on cultivated meat on Wednesday.

In signing the bill, DeSantis characterized cultivated meat as a product designed by "elites" that threatens the state's $546 million cattle industry. "What we're protecting here is the industry against acts of man, against an ideological agenda that wants to finger agriculture as the problem, that views things like raising cattle as destroying our climate," he said, according to the Florida Phoenix.

Under the new law, anyone who makes, sells, or distributes cultivated meat--which is also known as lab-grown or cultured meat--in Florida could face up to 60 days in jail. Several states are considering similar regulations, including Alabama, Arizona, Tennessee, and Texas. Italy banned lab-grown meat last year.

So far, the bans are largely symbolic. Last June, the USDA and FDA approved cultivated chicken from Berkeley, California-based Upside Foods, and Alameda, California-based Eat Just. The products, the first of their kind to be authorized in the U.S., are currently unavailable anywhere in the U.S., although each company's offering was briefly available at a single high-end restaurant in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Cultivated meat is produced in bioreactors using cells from animals. Along with the chicken, startups are at work on versions of beef and fish produced in a lab. Proponents say that in the long run, cultivated meat could significantly lower the greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing meat.

Los Angeles startup Omeat uses the plasma of cows to grow meat for ground beef. Last year, founder and CEO Ali Khademhosseini told Inc. that normally it could take about three years to raise a cow that will produce 300 kilograms of meat. With the process Omeat is developing, a single cow could provide the plasma to produce 2,000 kilograms of meat per year, with no slaughter involved.

Cultivated meat startups have struggled to produce products at scale or bring prices down, and the process is currently extremely energy-intensive. That hasn't kept investors away. In the fourth quarter of 2023, startups producing alternative proteins, including plant-based and cultivated meat, raised $461.9 million, according to PitchBook.

The U.S. Cattlemen's Association, representing traditional meat producers, has been vocal about raising safety concerns about cultivated meats and has lobbied to prevent makers from using terms like "beef" to describe their products.

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